Dear Friends and Neighbors,

CentraCare and Carris Health care givers have been working around the clock for more than 20 months to care for you, your families and friends during COVID. We are committed to caring for every Minnesotan who needs us, and nothing will prevent us from doing so – even during these never-seen-before times.

The challenge of providing this level of care is that our hospital beds are often full. ERs in all of our hospitals are packed. And our clinical teams are exhausted. Early in the pandemic, our community stepped up in amazing ways to helps us. We ask that you again join us in fighting this pandemic together.

How can you help?

  • Please get your COVID vaccines and booster shots. They are proven safe and effective in reducing COVID illness, keeping people out of the hospital, and preventing death.
  • If your situation is not an emergency, please use other care options, including:
  • If this is a medical emergency, call 9-1-1, or visit the ER.

Together, we can do this. Thank you for your support.

Ken Holmen, MD
President and CEO

What are Shingles?

Published in Wellness Tag: David Newcomer, DO  
It started with those little red bumps and a rash. Then those bumps got itchy and your mom covered you from head to toe with Calamine lotion so you wouldn’t scratch and spread the rash to other parts of your body or worse yet to your siblings.  What am I talking about?  I know you remember; those dreaded Chicken Pox.

You thought you were done with Chicken Pox, but now as an adult you need to be concerned because the Chicken Pox virus never really left your system.  The virus has been hibernating inside your body waiting to potentially reoccur at any time.  As an adult, when this virus comes back, we call this Shingles.  Shingles usually appear in older adults but can also appear when your immune system is weakened due to stress or another illness.

What do Shingles look like?

If you start to see what looks like a cluster of little blisters forming somewhere on your body that seem to be lying on a red base, it’s likely that you might have Shingles and should seek medical attention.  Shingles doesn’t take over your entire body like when you had Chicken Pox; they tend to cluster together in one area; so you might see them on a part of your face, one arm or one thigh.

Risks/Concerns

The Shingles rash can range from mild to severely painful. The virus irritates the nerves and the pain can last for months or even years, with some people having chronic pain that never goes away. Shingles usually occurs in one nerve distribution area such as one side of the leg, one side of the stomach or one side of the face.  Shingles of the face is much more serious because it can get into the eyes and that can cause vision problems.

Shingles is basically the chicken pox virus limited to a small area of skin,  so it will not affect your entire system.  There is a small risk, however, that open blisters may become infected with bacteria.

Shingles Vaccine

I tell my patients that the best way to prevent getting Shingles is to stay healthy so that the immune system doesn’t get compromised.  For my patients that are over 50, I also recommend that they get the Shingles vaccine because it will reduce their risk of getting Shingles by about 50%.

For those that get infected by the Shingles virus before age 50, I still recommend that they get the vaccine because there is a chance that Shingles can reoccur and this will help reduce the risk.

What if I never got Chicken Pox as a child?

If you never had Chicken Pox as a child you will not get Shingles as an adult because the virus is not in your system.  If you do not remember having Chicken Pox as a child I would still recommend a vaccine.

Vaccinations play an important role in staying healthy as a child and as an adult.  It is important that our children get the Chicken Pox vaccine to help prevent them from getting Shingles as an adult.